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Himalayan Hermitess: The Life of a Tibetan Buddhist Nun – Kurtis R. Schaeffer

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The Life of Orgyan Chokyi

Request removal from index. Revision history. From the Publisher via CrossRef no proxy muse. Configure custom resolver. Boris H. Brummans - - Anthropology of Consciousness 19 2 A Millennium of Buddhist Logic. Alex Wayman - - Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. Gross - - Buddhist-Christian Studies Buddhist Epistemology: The Study of Pramana. Jonathan Stoltz - - Religion Compass 3 4 The foal was killed and the mother wailed for days. Orgyan Chokyi set out to bring the corpse back, already riddled by vultures.

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And she wept, as did even her master, and the whole monastery was sad. Orgyan Chokyi composed a long lament that includes this telling verse:. She senses the special sorrow of female creatures: human, horse, goat, all fated to suffer, first by giving and nurturing new life itself fated to suffer, and secondly by suffering the abuse and indifference of the male.

She continues:.

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When men and women couple -- creating more life -- Happiness is rare, but suffering is felt for a long time. May I not be born again in a female body. May the mare not be born as a mare.

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  4. The steed follows yet another mare. When I see the shamelessness of men, I think: May I be born in a body that sustains the precepts. Let me not be born a woman in all lives to come When I ponder the suffering of beings, melancholy flares. Humans, horses, dogs, all beings, Male and female all think alike. But the suffering of life comes to females as a matter of course. I could do without the misery of this female life. How I lament this broken vessel, this female body. Orgyan Chokyi has here internalized the doctrine of liberation based on the privilege of the male human being. This doctrine was buttressed by the patriarchal social system of the Buddhist Tibet of this era. At the same time she clearly notes that both "male and female all think alike," meaning that either both are capable of profound thought, or that both think the same thoughts about themselves and their role. She concludes that "this female body is itself samsara ," and that her work in the dharma can only be for an intermediate goal:. This female body is itself samsara -- the round of existence.

    May I attain a male body, and keep the vows. May I never again by born in the body of a woman! This sentiment is powerful testimony to a psychology affected by religious doctrine, society, and culture. At the same time, it is a realistic assessment that indirectly or subconsciously accuses the supposedly superior human males of being perpetrators of great suffering. Orgyan Chokyi does not challenge religious doctrine about liberation but she comes close to the point of rejecting the institutions that foster this suffering as doctrine.

    It was the same point that her male teachers had reached, though without being capable of fully suffering the consequences of Orgyan Chokyi. She might have gone further if she were not, by her own account, slow-witted and unintelligent. Chapter 4 - "Chapter four relates how I requested teachings from my master and watched my mind work. He instructed her on meditation, mandalas, visualization, prostrations, and recitations.

    Orgyan Chokyi then describes the content of the teachings, providing a valuable confirmation on practice at the time, with bits of dialog from Orgyan Tenzin and Ani Drupchenmo, whom he charged with teaching her meditation. If I write a lot of words, my stillness will vanish. Even though this is what my master says, I still have to do everything, with my own intelligence. I don't have the intelligence to do this, I said to him. And without thinking about it he answered: Today after meditation you must go and write until dawn. So Orgyan Chokyi charted the progress of mind and meditation with the help of Ani Drupchenmo.

    One day she achieved what she she called "no unhappiness," experiencing a "pervasive joy. Kailash: a dazzling light from the Buddha statue there. Chapter 6 - "Chapter six relates how I stayed in the kitchen and suffered mental anguish in the bustle. She was disappointed, too, when she was excluded from group travel to Sikkim and saddened when her master left a while later on solitary retreat, which she longed to do.

    On his return Orgyan Chokyi told her Orgyan Tenzin that she wanted to quit the kitchen but he replied, in conventional fashion: "Men are just right for the field. Women are just right for the kitchen. Orgyan Chokyi told another nun, "I must live alone in retreat. How is solitude possible at the monastery with people all around. Chapter 7 - "Chapter seven relates how I gave up the kitchen and stayed in meditation reciting prayers. The day came when Orgyan Tenzin himself declared that the monastery bustle was too much and announced that he would depart for the "empty valley" of Nechentdru.

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    8. Moreover, he told Orgyan Chopki that she could accompany him. It was a desolate place to which he was going, with a scarcity of provisioning, but she could live alone there. Each day I looked at the life stories of the greater masters of the past, and each day impermanence became greater and greater to me. Hearing and seeing the suffering and death of all brings, I had to weep and weep. She suffered bouts of melancholia again, telling another nun of the difficulties of attaining Dharma.

      Orgyan Chokyi, Himalayan "Hermitess"

      In response, her friend wonders why she worries so. Only the most discerning and experienced of the religious could comprehend Orgyan Chokyi's plight. It is difficult to encounter the supreme Dharma. Bliss is slim but desire grows, And the mind always suffers. Just as the moth Desires the light of the lamp, So do men Desire women's bodies. To men, women are demons; to women men are demons. Here Orgyan Chokyi takes objective social and doctrinal misogyny to a subtler perception. The very nature of desire is suffering.

      The male, driven by unconscious desire, makes and spreads suffering even as he disparages the object of desire as demonic. Women perceive male lust in every sphere of social and mental reality.